I, too, grew up in a heartland of sorts, the rich agricultural country of the upper Midwest. By the time I could hold up a cane pole without tipping over, I was fishing for chub and dace, carp and suckers, and thought the world a perfect place. It grew less so, though, as I learned to read. In books and magazines, I first discovered trout, and then flyfishing, and they seemed exotic and beautiful, made for each other as well as for me. While by day I still fished for whatever would bite, at night, like Thoreau, I dreamed of trout fishing. But trout, as everyone knew, lived in the mountains, which for me were as functionally remote as New Guinea or Borneo. And throughout my early teens, I pitied myself the butt of some cruel genetic prank, conceived with trout and fly rods in my soul, then parachuted to earth amid the endless cornfields and cows of northern Illinois. I began to feel about flyfishing for trout like I felt about getting my first date-that I would grow old and die without ever knowing what it was all about.